Imatges de pÓgina
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vain sought for satisfaction. All his worldly greatness had been brought to nothing. All the ministers of God's wrath, as want and disease, and the death of dearest relations, appeared to be arrayed against him. His kinsfolk, his acquaintance, and his most intimate friends, had deserted and forgotten him. The inmates of his house, his own servants, had treated him as a stranger, and turned a deaf ear to his requests. Even his wife had behaved as though his breath were strange to her, and that, when he appealed to her by this strong bond of wedded love, their common offspring. And whilst both young and old, including his very nearest and dearest friends, had thus turned against him, he had been also suffering the pains of a loathsome disease, barely escaping with his life.

Well might Job plead these things as arguments for sympathy on the part of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar; even supposing that all their suspicions against him had been founded on truth. Well might he appeal to them in these affecting words, "Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends, for the hand of God hath touched me." Ver. 21. And well may we hence be led to reflect, that the sufferings, which we frequently see to follow, even in this present life, on the commission of sin, are grounds on which we ought to compassionate the sufferer, however richly he may have deserved to suffer. Whatever Whatever may be the triumphant joy, with which we shall be enabled in another life to regard God's righteous judgments upon sinners, and however this may be compatible, as it doubtless will be, with the love then perfected in the saints; our present office rather is to have compassion on those, who are overtaken with the consequences of their own misconduct. When the righteous are afflicted, this is indeed a call for more than common concern. And they who would fain glorify their Saviour Christ, will on such occasions take the utmost pains to comfort those, whom they believe to love the Lord Jesus in sincerity. But however far the sufferer be from righteous, still if he be afflicted, we ought to pity him. And it is in any case his affliction, which we may be sure of, rather than his righteousness, in respect to which we may be mistaken, it is his affliction that renders him the proper object of our compassionate regard. Happy they, who have learnt from the bright example set us by our Lord, to weep with them that weep! Happy they, who, however eminent in piety themselves, instead of judging their brethren when suffering for sin, or harshly reproaching them with their sinfulness, come forward to administer in their sorrows the balm of unaffected sympathy, as men who feel that but for God's gracious help they might have fallen in like manner, and that but for their Saviour's death they must have suffered infinitely worse to all eternity!

Job declareth his trust in a Redeemer.

21 Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched

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the earth:

26 And though, after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:

27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

28 But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?

29 Be ye afraid of the sword: for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know there is a judgment.

LECTURE 792.

The hope of final redemption our best comfort in trouble.

In the former part of this chapter, Job has at some length set forth his various afflictions, as grounds on which he now appeals to his friends to pity him. And after earnestly pleading for their kind compassion, he asks them reproachfully what reason they could have to persecute him, and to take upon themselves to afflict him, as though they were in the place of God, and as if they were not satisfied with the things which he was already suffering in the flesh. Instead of pitying him as they ought, he implies, they were actually adding to his troubles. They were acting as his enemies rather than as his friends. And it was perhaps the thought of this their enmity, that led him to speak of that Redeemer or Avenger, whom he now declares that he confidently expected to arise and take his part. And this confident expectation he expresses in terms so far beyond man's wisdom to devise, and introduces with a wish so plainly descriptive of its infinite importance, that we can scarcely doubt that here we have Job speaking not of the will of man, but as he was moved by the Holy Spirit of God.

"Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book!" Imprinted, or impressed, he means, by some of the methods then in use for fixing in the most lasting manner that which was written. "That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!" Perhaps alluding to a practice of filling up the letters, with melted lead, when engraved by iron tools. For I know that my redeemer liveth;" using a word which means literally the next of kin, and meaning, one who will

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discharge the offices of the next of kin, the avenging me of my enemies, and delivering me from my troubles, and purchasing me out of my captivity. See Num. 35. 12. 19; Lev. 25. 25. 49. "And that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth." Though now alive, He is not now visible in the flesh on earth, as assuredly He shall be hereafter; once when He comes to suffer death, once more when He comes again to judge the world. "And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." He shall deliver me from all my enemies, even from the power of that last enemy death; insomuch that this my body, worn out as it is with disease, shall be renewed in immortal life, and shall be made the means, in a glorified state, of my seeing and enjoying God. "Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." Low as I am reduced by sickness, and nigh as I am to death, yea, and however long time after death this mortal body may lie in the grave and moulder in corruption, yet shall I hereafter see God with my own eyes; such great things will my Redeemer do for me. How much less then ought ye my friends to think of vexing me, seeing that I am so strongly rooted in this hope of a Redeemer! How much more ought ye to be afraid of provoking his wrath, by your unjust treatment of one who believes in Him, when ye consider that He is coming to judge all mankind!

There may perhaps be room to doubt whether Job, when he used the words before us, was able to attach to them so clear and full a meaning as we have now supposed; even granting that he was directed in the use of them by inspiration of God. But it is our privilege to apply to our instruction the things written in the Old Testament, with all the help which the Gospel gives us in the interpretation thereof. Here therefore let us lift up our thoughts to the hope of life eternal, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, as our chief resource for peace, and joy, and confidence, under whatsoever troubles and trials overtake us. Our flesh may be the seat of excruciating pain; our spirits may be distressed by the unkindness of friends, or by the persecution of enemies. But what of these things, if the root of the matter be found in us? What of these things if we be found in Christ, having the righteousness which is by faith in Him; and if He be sure to come, ere long, as Judge of quick and dead, and we have good reason to believe that He will then prove our everlasting Friend? What matters it that we die now, if then we shall be raised up to life? What matters it, that now we are afflicted, if then we shall rejoice for ever and ever?

Grant, Lord, to us that lively faith, which is the evidence of things unseen! Grant that we may thereby see and know, that He who once died for us on the cross, is now alive for evermore, and has the keys of hell and death! See Rev. 1. 18.

Zophar reneweth his discourse on the end of the ungodly. 1 Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said,

2 Therefore do my thoughts cause me to answer, and for this I make haste.

3 I have heard the check of my reproach, and the spirit of my understanding causeth me to

answer.

4 Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth, 5 That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment? 6 Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds;

7 Yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung: they which have seen him shall say, Where is he?

8 He shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found: yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night.

9 The eye also which saw him shall see him no more; neither shall his place any more behold him.

please the poor, and his hands shall restore their goods.

11 His bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust.

12 Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue;

13 Though he spare it, and forsake it not: but keep it still within his mouth;

14 Yet his meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within him.

15 He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly.

16 He shall suck the poison of asps: the viper's tongue shall slay him.

17 He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter.

18 That which he laboured for shall he restore, and shall not swallow it down: according to his substance shall the restitution be, and he shall not rejoice

10 His children shall seek to therein.

LECTURE 793.

The misery of having the will rebellious towards God.

Zophar begins his answer with stating that he is in haste to speak, because he had heard words which he took for a reproach. And without paying the least attention to Job's affecting plea for pity, he dwells, in the same strain as he had done before, see Ch. 11, on the terrible consequences of wickedness; as one who took it for granted, that Job was to be numbered among the wicked. Little as all this was applicable to the case of Job, we may lay to heart the substance of Zophar's words, as a profitable warning to ourselves, of the miserable end which speedily overtakes all those, who live an ungodly life. Even under the dispensation of the Gospel, which has been the means of bringing life and immortality to light, and which directs our thoughts from present retribution to the day of universal judgment, there

are yet very many instances, in which these fearful words of Zophar are signally fulfilled. So close is the connexion, in the order of God's providence, between doing wickedly and suffering for it! So many are the cases, in which the practices of iniquity bring down on the offender, in the course of nature, their own reward!

But it is when we take eternity into the account, that we can best interpret Zophar's words, and apply them most profitably to our own instruction. In this point of view, how short is the triumphing of the wicked; how momentary the joy of the hypocrite! How speedy is his fall from the height of his prosperity, how soon do they which have seen him flourishing, have to say, with fearful apprehension, "Where is he?" All his greatness, and the wealth in which he trusted, vanish from him like a dream. His children too, on which perhaps he has unduly set his heart, these must leave him, or he leave them, glad if there be any hope, a gloomy hope, that where he is going they may never come. The sins of his youth, not having been repented of, lie down with him in the dust, and arise with him at the resurrection of the dead. Sweet as they seemed at the moment of committing them, they leave behind a savour of deadly bitterness, they inflict a sting never to be cured. All that he has gained wrongfully, God will make him yield up shamefully. And the restitution, not being wrought in him by repentance, but wrung from him by death, shall be matter not of joy but grief.

It is one of the results of godly sorrow, according to St. Paul's account of it, that it works in us a degree of indignation against sin, and a disposition to mortify its power, which is worthy to be called "revenge." 2 Cor. 7. 11. This notion includes of necessity the restitution or restoring of that whereinsoever we have wronged one another, as far as we are able to restore it. And such restitution becomes a source of pleasure to the heart once truly changed, which now delights in doing God's commandments. And so it is in every other duty, the subduing and conforming our own will to that which God commands, makes every commandment welcome, every thing we have to do a cause of joy and thankfulness. Whilst this is the envenomed sting that rankles in the heart of the ungodly, this rebellion of their will, this insubordination to the will of God, and this being compelled by force at the last to render unto Him, in groans from hell, that glory, which they refuse to give Him willingly, by songs of praise in heaven.

PART V. O. T.

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